July 24, 2023

Hackettstown, N.J., July 24, 2023—Three Centenary University students were awarded full scholarships to attend the national leadership conference of the American Association of University Women (AAUW), which was held recently at the University of Maryland in College Park. The Centenary students—Onoshope Itunoya-Musa ’24 of Newark, N.J., Jasmine Sampong ’26 of Riverdale, N.J., and Angelica Torres ’25 of Lancaster, Pa.—were each selected to receive scholarships covering the full cost of conference attendance from the AAUW’s New Jersey chapter, which had originally planned to award just two scholarships, according to Kathleen Greco, community engagement coordinator at Centenary.

The three students were instrumental in the recent launch of a Centenary University chapter of the AAUW after Itunoya-Musa was encouraged to attend a virtual AAUW conference by late Centenary First Lady Jeanne Murphy, who had been a member of the New Jersey chapter. Since the scholarships didn’t cover transportation, the University provided funds to fully cover transportation expenses through the Wallbank-Rowland Endowment Scholarship, which supports extraordinary non-classroom experiences for Centenary students. In addition, the University community—including faculty, administrators, staff, and alumni—chipped in to help pay other related expenses of the trip. Greco explained, “Everyone recognized that this was a huge opportunity for our students to attend a national conference. The students were so happy that the Centenary community was there for them.”

Once in Maryland, the Centenary students interacted with other young women from universities around the nation and attended workshops designed to empower young women in their professional and personal lives, including personal finance and healthy relationships. “We got to listen to and meet a lot of women in leadership positions,” recalled Sampong. “One woman spoke about empowerment in the workplace, especially in terms of Black women and women of color. She talked about the challenges Black women face in the corporate world and how young women can gain leadership positions.”

A key takeaway from the conference for Itunoya-Musa was the importance of women developing a voice: “It’s important to find your unique voice and stand on it. You should challenge yourself to become educated and be confident to be yourself when you go out in the world. You have to stay true to yourself.”

Torres added that her favorite workshop focused on avoiding burnout. “It’s all about finding balance and not overworking yourself,” she said. “It’s important to do one thing at a time and find ways to relax.”

Now, the Centenary University chapter of the AAUW is growing. Since the conference, more young women have inquired about joining and plans for guest speakers and other AAUW activities are taking shape for the fall semester. That’s exactly what Greco had hoped would happen: “The one thing I wanted our students to take away from this conference is confidence. As a university, it is our responsibility to help lift students to new levels and to help them to grow. People at Centenary are starting to get excited about this organization. It accomplishes great things—like sending three students to a national conference.”

Photo ID: From left, Angelica Torres, Jasmine Sampong, Onoshope Itunoya-Musa

ABOUT CENTENARY UNIVERSITY                                            

Founded in 1867 by the Newark Conference of the United Methodist Church, Centenary University’s academic program integrates a solid liberal arts foundation with a strong career orientation. This mix provides an educational experience that prepares students to succeed in the increasingly global and interdependent world. The University’s main campus is located in Hackettstown, N.J., with its equestrian facility in Washington Township.